Teaching used to be proudly referred to as the noble profession in years gone by, whose members were held in such high esteem among their respective communities.
Since time immemorial, teachers were role-models and beacons of moral righteousness whose wisdom and guidance could be counted upon no matter the situation.
However, the image of the profession has taken a battering in recent times as its members increasingly find themselves on the wrong end of the stick.
Immoral acts by some reprobate teachers has since left the profession battling for its very soul — a sad change of fortune for what was once a career of choice and whose members automatically commanded respect no-matter the company.
Elsewhere in this issue, we carry a report any decent parent would desperately wish was not true — a story that does not do the bruised image of the teaching profession any good while also posing serious questions to school authorities and the education ministry, as well as the police and society at large.
The report suggests there could be a problem of teachers sexually abusing their students in our schools and almost always getting away with it because of a conspiracy of silence involving school authorities and the tutors in question.
In some cases, this treachery is also said to involve guardians of the violated, orphaned students who reportedly easily drop any reported case of abuse in exchange for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver.
Probably the only solace in the report is that the Minister of Education and Training, Makabelo Mosothoane, has not only acknowledged that the scourge threatens the country’s education system, but conceded that something needs to be done to ensure the problem does not reach crisis levels.
The minister has called for stiffer penalties for those convicted of tarnishing this otherwise venerated profession, while the police are also making sure students are sensitised on what course of action to follow should they find themselves the target of these shameless monsters.
In the cases highlighted in our story, the culprits are all said to be expatriates, which raises the very crucial question of whether government is doing enough to ensure only those with unsullied reputations are allowed among our vulnerable children.
Because of the very sensitive nature of their jobs — or rather, the vulnerability of the students under their charge — all the relevant stakeholders should ensure teachers are thoroughly vetted before they are allowed into our schools.
It is everybody’s responsibility —from parents, principals, fellow teachers, teachers’ unions, students and the community at large — to ensure schools are cleaned of lecherous characters who have already brought so much damage and shame to the venerable teaching profession.